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Greece vs Euro Stars

Quote:Athens staged another celebration of basketball on Saturday when the Greek national side faced a European All-Star team on Eurostars night.

Ten thousand fans poured into OAKA, the Olympic Sports Complex Arena and watched Greece win 101-95.

That was, coincidentally, the same scoreline of Greece's famous triumph over the United States in the semi-finals of the 2007 FIBA World Championship.

In truth, the result did not matter. The night was about the gathering of heroes past, and present.

Panathinaikos coach Zeljko Obradovic and Italy national team coach Carlo Recalcati led the European side, with Panagiotis Yannakis at the helm of the Greeks.

"I would like to indicate how important it is for European basketball to have such games, such events," said Obradovic, who recently led Panathinaikos to a 3-2 triumph over Olympiacos in the Greek A1 finals.

"I was afraid that it would be difficult for the players, but both they and the fans enjoyed it."

It was a special night for everyone, and certainly Yannakis, one of the leaders of the Greek national team that claimed gold at the 1987 EuroBasket by upsetting the Soviet Union.

That Greek team's performance has received a lot of credit for fuelling interest in European basketball.

"I was very touched to see all the players, teammates and opponents since 1987," Yannakis said. "They were special moments for me, for all of us. I am really proud of that team, but I am also very proud of the players we have now in the national team."

One of those is Theo Papaloukas, who was on hand to receive his FIBA Europe Player of the Year honor for 2006.

Papaloukas has arguably been the best player in Europe since the Athens Olympics. He had 14 points on Saturday for Greece.

Anyone who had the privilege to attend will admit the occasion was special. On hand were legends like Sergey Belov, Vladimir Tkatchenko, Doron Jamshy, Dejan Bodiroga and Antonello Riva.

There were the Greek legends of '87, as pointed out by Yannakis, and the EuroBasket 2005 winning Greeks, who will defend their title later this year in Spain.

Recalcati was a good choice to have alongside Obradovic. He was successful as a player for clubs and Italy, and he has done great things for clubs and country since as a coach.

"It's a great honour to be here on such a special day for the Greek Federation and for European basketball, beside great champions such as coaches and players," Recalcati said.

"It was a big honor to be beside Obradovic, too, on the same bench." Recalcati shared a lighthearted moment with the press corps, adding: "To tell you the truth, I tried to find out, to understand how he (Obradovic) wins everything, but I didn't manage to find anything out - no secrets there!"

Obradovic and Recalcati on one bench, and Yannakis on the other - they exhorted their players on, telling them to play with freedom.

As a consequence, the game was nice to watch. There were a lot of dunks and crazy passes, perhaps too many.

The two teams were tied at 14-14, but after that Greece's players had the advantage of knowing each other and it was obvious until the end of the game.

Antonis Fotsis scored 20 points for Greece and was followed by Yannis Bourousis, Papaloukas (14), Nikos Zisis (10) and Nikos Chatzivrettas (10).

Belgium's Thomas Van Den Spiegel led the scorers of the European Stars with 14 points, while Poland's Adam Wojcik and Turkey's Ibrahim Kutluay added 10 apiece.

There was an emotional moment when everyone was reminded of Liveris Andritsos, a member of the Greek national team of 1987 who was seriously injured in a gas explosion recently at a restaurant in Nea Smyrni, Athens.

He was injured while attempting to rescue a woman and placed in intensive care. Andritsos is still hospitalised.

As for the future of this event, Obradovic said: "I am happy that I was part of this game and I would like to be a part of it again in the future. "And I wish this game would take place in Greece again in two years!"

Panagiotis Yannakis added: "I think that these kinds of games are the best for European basketball. Great players, great coaches such as Recalcati and Obradovic. These players are taking European basketball to another level.

"I am happy that fans came to watch the game and honoured us."


Greece: Papaloukas 14, Zisis 10, Spanoulis 6, Vassilopoulos 4, Fotsis 20, Chatzivrettas 10, Dikoudis 4, Tsartsaris 9, Diamantidis, Papadopoulos 4, Kakiouzis 4, Bourousis 16

Eurostars: Hagag 4, Boisa 4, Becirovic 6, Pecile 8, De Miguel 5, Wojcik 10, Roller 4, Van Den Spiegel 14, Grafs 5, Savrasenko 5, Kutluay 10, Vujcic 8, Fridzon 7, Popovic

European "stars" team look really poor. Most of the players are average at the best. If they can't bring a better team the this game is really a waste of time.
I think OAKA is a temple of basketball.
Respect and thanks for everything:

Alvertis, Bodiroga, Jasikevicius, Radja, Wilkins, Vrankovic, Fotsis, Rebraca, Kattash, Gentile, Koch, Middleton, Kutluay, Rogers, Papadopoulos, Becirovic, Tomasevic, Siskauskas, Pekovic, Lakovic, Vujanic, Chatzivrettas, Maljkovic, Spanoulis and many more to follow in the near future.
[Image: vspa.jpg]


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